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Convicted killer Ronald Lafferty seeks another mental competency review

Ron Lafferty
Ron Lafferty
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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah death row inmate Ronald Lafferty, who has been convicted by two juries of slitting the throats of his sister-in-law and her 15-month-old daughter, is seeking another mental competency evaluation.

Attorneys for Lafferty and lawyers representing the state attended a Friday hearing in U.S. District Judge Dee Benson's courtroom, but almost immediately left the room to discuss matters in private. They emerged about 90 minutes later, with the judge announcing that the state will respond to a motion.

Lafferty's petition has been filed under seal, and attorneys later said they could not discuss it.

Lafferty, 68, was convicted in 1985 of murdering Brenda Wright Lafferty and her infant daughter, Erica. He and his brother, Dan Lafferty, had broken into the woman's American Fork home and killed the two.

Ronald Lafferty, a member of a polygamous sect, claimed he had been directed by God to do these things.

His brother was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. Ronald Lafferty was sentenced to death following this first conviction, then won an appeal and received a new trial in 1991. He was evaluated for mental competency in 1994, underwent another trial in 1996 and was again found guilty and sentenced to die.

The Utah Supreme Court in 2007 unanimously turned down Lafferty's request for a new trial. His case is now being appealed in federal court, and Lafferty is raising the mental competency issue there.

— Linda Thomson